LONDON: The Football Association has been placed in an invidious position by the outcome of the John Terry trial But there is one way in which the protagonists themselves could provide the platform for a way forward writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This would be if Terry himself and the two Ferdinands – both Anton and elder brother Rio, with his unhelpful tweeting from the sidelines – could get together, conclude a personal rapprochement and issue a public statement to the effect.
The Football Association will revive the inquiry into the Terry/Anton Ferdinand exchange during last October’s QPR v Chelsea game at Loftus Road. After the “industrial language” revelations in court, it appears inevitable that both should face minimum charges of having brought the game into disrepute. But the racist comment issue will hang around for a long time unless the central characters shoulder their responsibilities on behalf of the game.
A contradiction in the case is that Anton Ferdinand himself has denied having heard Terry use the word “black” in the insulting phrase. Not did Ashley Cole, who gave evidence on behalf of Terry at the trial.
Ferdinand’s attention was gained only later when he was shown a video clip of the verbal clash. Police became involved after a complaint from an off-duty policeman who had seen the same video clip.
Paul Elliott, an ambassador of the FA-funded anti-racism group Kick It Out and a former Chelsea defender, was disappointed by the entire incident.
He said: “There are no winners in this situation. Football is a wonderful way for people to break down barriers and challenge all forms of discrimination and prejudices so it’s very sad we’ve witnessed this sad and sorry outcome.”
Lord Ouseley, a leading anti-racism campaigner and an FA Council member, thought it might have better if the police had not become involved and the FA had been left to deal with the incident – as it did, effectively, in the case of Luis Suarez.
Liverpool’s Uruguay forward was banned for eight games for a racist comment to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Gordon Taylor – chief executive of the players’ union, the Professional Footballers Association – is concerned that the Terry case may deter other black players from coming forward is they believe they have been the subject of racial abuse.
He said: “This has been an unedifying week for football. The searchlight is on our national sport. We must reinforce the Respect campaign because the image of the game has been tarnished this week.”
The aftermath has been further soured by an exchange on Twitter in which Rio Ferdinand endorsed a comment about Ashley Cole as a “choc ice” [chocolate ice-cream = brown on the outside, white on the inside].
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